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Trial in absentia set for Rainsy

Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian diaspora in New York last month during a visit to the United States. Photo supplied
Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy talks to Cambodian diaspora in New York last month during a visit to the United States. Photo supplied

Trial in absentia set for Rainsy

Self-exiled CNRP leader Sam Rainsy’s legal battles were compounded yesterday as a lower court concluded its investigation into the posting of a “fake” version of the Vietnam-Cambodia border treaty on his Facebook page and a trial date was set for a separate defamation suit.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Kor Vanny, in a letter dated June 30, said the investigation into jailed Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour’s posting of an allegedly doctored version of the border treaty on Rainsy’s Facebook page last August had ended and that the prosecutor would decide the next step.

“The prosecutor will send his conclusions back to the investigating judge, after which the case can be sent for prosecution or he can request to drop the charge,” said court spokesman Ly Sophanna.

Sok Hour is accused of forging a public document, using a forged public document and incitement to cause serious unrest, whereas Rainsy has been tagged as an accomplice. Sophanna said the two cases are proceeding independently.

In a separate defamation case filed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin’s attorney, Ky Tech, against Rainsy, Sophanna said the case would directly proceed to trial on July 28.

The suit relates to a Facebook post by Rainsy last December where he alluded to the 1980s regime initially led by Samrin, which had convicted late King Norodom Sihanouk of being a traitor and sentenced him to death, in absentia, in a show trial.

“Everybody knows the charges against me are fallacious,” Rainsy said, via email yesterday. “Hun Sen’s CPP and its Kangaroo court created them in order to discard me, as opposition leader, from the election process.”

He said the upcoming elections would be “meaningless” without a legitimate opposition and the CPP needed to strike a deal to reunite him and acting CNRP president Kem Sokha.

Rainsy added that he had been invited to speak before the Human Rights Commission of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee next Wednesday.

“The invitation I have received to attend that parliamentary hearing – and upcoming US Congress resolutions – show the international discredit increasingly plaguing the repressive Hun Sen government,” he said, referencing recent language in US legislation that would threaten Cambodian aid over the current political crisis.

The CNRP yesterday released a statement announcing that they had submitted letters to the Ministry of Justice and National Assembly questioning the very notion that Sokha could be tried for failing to appear for court summonses.

Citing Article 80 of the constitution, the letter states that a trial against Sokha could progress only if two-thirds of lawmakers voted to strip him of his immunity.

“If the judge pushes . . . Kem Sokha’s case to trial, without stripping his immunity first, it is an abuse of the constitution,” said CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang.

An investigation into Sokha’s refusal to appear before court for cases related to his alleged sex scandal was concluded on Tuesday, and is now with prosecutors.

Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap and the National Assembly’s Leng Peng Long said they had yet to receive the letter.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga

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